Bare COVID’s true toll on PH, Robredo urges gov’t

MANILA, Philippines — Vice President Leni Robredo on Sunday called on the country’s pandemic managers to take a more hands-on approach to the COVID-19 crisis, as she expressed concerns over the gaps between what was being publicized and what was actually happening on the ground.

In her weekly radio show, Robredo again called out the government for remaining in denial about COVID-19’s true toll on the country’s healthcare system.

“Maybe this is why we’re taking so long and being so slow, because there is no acceptance — for us, we have done enough, [we] did the right thing,” Robredo said.

Robredo seems to be alluding to President Rodirgo Duterte’s recent statement, where he maintained that the Philippine government acted swiftly and decisively when the pandemic first struck the Philippines.

Critics, however, have repeatedly pointed out that the country missed several opportunities to restrict travel and do early testing, forcing a total economic lockdown in March.

The Vice President also flagged as inaccurate presidential spokesperson Harry Roque’s statements that testing and hospital beds remained accessible to those who needed it.

On brink of collapse

In reality, several health workers warned that the country’s health-care system was on the brink of collapse, with thousands of patients scrambling over limited medical resources and many more not even making it to the hospital.

“If that was accurate, we (the Office of the Vice President) wouldn’t be swamped by requests for help,” said Robredo, who last week launched a teleconsultation service for outpatient needs to help decongest hospitals.

She also called on the government to be more aware about what’s happening on the ground by going out into the field more and immersing in the day-to-day operations of health workers.

Robredo noted that her office was already swamped by desperate requests for help — but that only represented a “small percentage” of the dire situation on the ground.